What is the #1 Predictor of Success in School & in Life?


According to Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher turned psychologist, GRIT is the factor that will determine whether a student will succeed or fail.

According to Angela, GRIT is “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. GRIT is stamina. GRIT is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. GRIT is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” GRIT is prioritizing future goals over the desires of right now. GRIT is the ability to say NO and still maintain your cool factor. Kids from any generation don’t know this because nobody looks you in the eye and articulates this point as forcefully as Angela just did.  We might have observed a parent, neighbor, someone who modeled GRIT. With admiration we compliment with, “He / She has GRIT in their craw” (an idiom that means a person who shows courage, fortitude, and determination in difficult situations *).

Here is a great Q/A for you students at the beginning of class. Project on the board.

From the list below, which characteristic will increase a person’s chance to be successful in school and in life?

  • A high IQ
  • Social intelligence
  • Good looks / great clothes
  • Excellent health
  • Incredible talent
  • Grit — sticking with your hopes and dreams, day in, day out, not just for the week, not for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.
  • Family income / status
  • High SAT scores
  • Attending one of the top schools
  • Intact family — a nuclear family in which membership has remained constant, in the absence of divorce or other divisive factors.

Write a paragraph explaining your answer. This is preparation for you being able to intelligently articulate your selection of a characteristic.

In conclusion, Do you have grit? You might have to think about that.

Teacher Information:

Angela concluded with: “we don’t know how to teach our kids a solid work ethic, we don’t know how to motivate kids for the long term, and we don’t know why some highly intelligent people with incredible talent don’t follow thru on their commitments”. The best idea she’s heard in building GRIT in kids is called “growth mindset”, it is a study performed by Dr. Carol Dweck from Stanford University. The concept of growth mindset is, “the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort.” Dr. Dweck’s study has shown “that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when / if they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.”

Unbeknownst to Dr. Dweck, a successfully completed United States Marine Corps Recruit Training (commonly known as “boot camp”) of 12 weeks will teach GRIT and a lot of other characteristics. The Marines change lives because they inspire their recruits to do more than they knew they were capable of.

I believe to succeed; you first have to be willing to fail. You can’t fear failure; fear stops you from trying. When you are not trying, you’ve given up and you are just hoping / crossing your fingers. I’ve always used the metaphor; you got to be willing to throw mud on the wall. Some mud will stick, some will hit the wall then bounce off, but sometimes it will hit the wall then maybe slide a little, or some of the mud will fall to the ground. If you keep trying, overtime you will figure out the difference between success and failure. Once you succeed in one area in life, you will succeed in other areas of life.  You know the formula.


*Movie — True Grit with John Wayne who possessed courage, fortitude and determination



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